“It has become a habit in fact: I try every day to find challenges to overcome or funny movements to make so that the videos are not too boring. I post them and it makes me move”. Alice, 27, lives alone in an apartment in Toulouse. The “Stay at home, but move anyway”, Slogan of the public authorities for five weeks now, she did not have the desire or the desire to respect it every day. And then one day, she began to take up challenges launched by strangers on social networks, and she found her sports routine: filming her physical activity so that she could share it with others.

There are thus hundreds of thousands of people who, like Alice, follow the hashtags devoted (#samedisport or #handstandchallenge for example) and reserve their daily time of physical activity for a sporting challenge on social networks. You need a smartphone, two or three staging ideas, and an often funny challenge, sometimes very difficult. Among strangers, between friends or family, and even between colleagues, community sport has adapted to the constraints of confinement. And shaped a new relationship with the movement.


Instagram, Tik Tok: or how to play sports alone and with everyone at the same time

“I get up in the morning, I swipe (side scan action on a phone screen, editor’s note) ten times on Tik Tok, and generally enough is enough to find a funny and doable challenge for me” says Alice. Like a tailor-made manual, social networks thus provide a range of – more or less – sporting challenges to Internet users, and since the start of confinement, renewal has been done much more quickly. Every day, users compete in inventiveness to launch new ones. And if some do not meet the minimum physical activity advice given by the Ministry of Sports, others far exceed them. Like this challenge launched by Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles: the #handstandchallenge.


“For example, I never, or very rarely, can motivate myself to move if I have to do it alone in my corner” However, in reality, Alice plays sports “alone and in (his) corner”. The collective, even community, aspect is only virtual here.

For the sociologist William Gasparini, author notably of Integration through sport, this desire for a virtual community was not born with confinement. But it is accentuated. “Never before have we seen a Federer filming himself hitting the ball against his wall.” The Swiss had indeed, on April 7, launched a challenge on Twitter. He therefore called on his community to try to follow him. Obviously, the challenge was largely relayed, and hundreds of thousands of people found themselves repeating (or rather, trying to repeat) the gesture of the champion, with his comments.


Beyond the obvious coup de com and the “need to continue to exist for top athletes”, in the words of William Gasparini, this challenge is only the emerging example of what is a historical tendency to share one’s individual physical effort. “When aerobics arrived in France in the 80s, everyone began to repeat the gestures of Véronique and Davina (in the program Gym Tonic, Editor’s note), which they saw on TV”. Véronique and Davina, the distant ancestors of your Tik Tok challenges? “Man is a social animal, we need to share. Before the epidemic, many links through sport were made face-to-face, others in virtual. Now, by the nature of things, it rebalances with a lot no more virtual links. After this crisis, we may find the balance before. “

So, if Alice is content with individual challenges, others do so as a couple, or as a family. It sometimes gives rise to scenes of sharing between generations.

Sport through choreography

The toad challenge

Challenges with friends or family

Even further in this desire for a virtual sports community, there is sport in videoconferencing. For sports challenges on social networks, we “make community” once the sporting act carried out. We then wait for the return, the assent (the “likes”) or the challenges of others. There, the sporting act itself is carried out with its virtual community. “It’s a way to show your friends: get up, play sports, don’t just stand there,” explains the founder of a sports video conferencing app, Fitandview, Hicham El Archi. “Meeting up with others is a good way to boost. ”

The motivational vein has been used for many years by applications such as Strava, which rely heavily on the community aspect of racing. But in full confinement, it is not possible to meet for a jog. So why not do it by videoconference? If his application was created in December 2019, Hicham El Archi admits that the current situation constitutes an opportunity for his concept. “Downloads have doubled since the start of confinement. Why does it work? Because when you know you are not alone, it motivates you to get up from your sofa. Knowing that there is a meeting you, we prepare, we organize. ” There is indeed the possibility of scheduling sessions with coaches, and especially of motivating oneself with friends before and during physical exercise, even for those who, in normal times, do very little or no sport.

In business, maintain the link between colleagues, even reveal them

After family and friends, the other community that talks through sport, somewhat against all odds during this confinement, is work. In companies where telework has become king since confinement, colleagues and staff no longer really mix, except for some videoconferences or telephone calls. The off-work exchange times, which used to be held in the corridors or near the coffee machine, are reduced to nothing. So, a few clubs have decided to take up sporting challenges. Like the Pays de Thiérache, a local authority located in Picardy that employs 11 people full time. “I thought it would be nice to recreate the bond between us”, explains the director Virgine Fleury. “It is important in the running of a business.”

Sports challenges, Tik Tok, dedicated apps: how community sport reinvents itself during confinement
© DR

She then created a Facebook group “Défis sports du Pays de Thiérache” and charged Valentine, One of its employees also studying STAPS, to offer daily challenges. Fitness, pilates, choreography: like the Tik Tok or Instagram challenges, the fun aspect is as important as the strictly sporting element. “And it works! Making sports videos requires showing a little of your personality; in the way of making and doing it, you often add a little humor. We recognize each person’s personalities. even revealed! ”

From May 11, the date scheduled for the start of deconfinement, things will gradually return to normal: it will eventually be possible again to run with others or to exchange with others around a balloon, while keeping its distance. Are virtual sports communities doomed to disappear? Will we see Federer again challenge his fans, a grandfather dancing for his grandsons on The Weeknd, or colleagues throwing around a bad taste? For Virgine Fleury in any case, it is planned “as soon as possible” a discussion with all its employees “to extend sporting challenges far beyond confinement”.


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